Relax, Perry’s Playing Great

It’s no secret that the Anaheim Ducks rely heavily on the output of their top line. As “the twins” Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry go, so does the entire team. Everyone is out of sorts these days, so allow me to address the elephant in Honda Center: Perry’s production is down, significantly. He needed an empty net in Thursday night’s 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche to get his first goal in the last 14 games. This is the second such dry spell in 44 games, as he suffered through an 18-game goalless drought earlier this season.

He has a career average of 1.3 goals per 60 minutes of ice time but finds himself averaging just under 0.6 goals per 60 minutes of ice time this season. When any team’s highest paid-player sees his goals per 60 minutes of ice time drop 55% versus his career average and 58% versus last season (1.4 goals per 60 min. TOI) fans will notice. You don’t have to look beyond the “Ducks Qs” segment of Ducks radio broadcasts to confirm that Ducks fans have noticed, and some are in panic mode.

This is likely because the casual hockey fan doesn’t look beyond goals and assists to determine a player’s production, which is a fatal flaw in their analysis. If one looks closer at “Scorey” Perry’s stats this season versus his career numbers, one might see that Perry is primed for a hot second half.

Perry’s Offensive Production

The numbers that truly define production at the professional level tell a story of consistency for the player affectionately referred to as “the hated one.”

Going into Saturday’s game against Arizona, Perry had attempted an average of 15.52 shots per 60 minutes of ice time in 2016-17, which is down a mere .31 from his career average of 15.83. Through 44 games this season, approximately one-quarter of the 208 shots he has attempted have missed the net, and just under 16% have been blocked. These represent a 2% increase and 1.6% decrease respectively versus his career averages. Perry has put the puck on net with 58.2% of all shots attempted this season, which is a mere 1.1% below his career average of 59.3%. He’s generating the same offensive opportunities that he has his whole career.

Corey Perry scoring
Corey Perry (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Defensive Reliability

The consistency continues on the defensive side of the puck. He has 41 hits in 44 games so far this season, just off his career average of 1.07 hits per game. Much the same when it comes to blocked shots, 0.34 blocked shots per game average this season versus 0.37 blocks per game mark for his career.

If you look even deeper into his statistical records you will find that Perry has 14 takeaways against 17 giveaways in 44 games played this season. He’s averaging only 0.38 giveaways per game this season, which is a massive improvement for a player whose 437 career giveaways compute to an average of 0.61 per game. Surely most Ducks fans would have been thrilled during the offseason if you told them that Corey Perry would commit one less turnover per four games played this season.

Possession Metrics

Even the complex possession metrics that most casual fans don’t know or care about will testify to the reliability of number 10. His 2016-17 Corsi percentage prior to Saturday’s game was 58.6 and his relative Corsi percentage was 12.7, up from career averages of 58.2% and 11.9%. You’ll find almost the same story with his 2016-17 Fenwick and relative Fenwick, which sit currently at 58.3% and 11.9%, up from his career averages of 58.2% and 11.1%.

If you aren’t familiar with either of these, they are stats which measure puck possession while a player is on the ice. The video below provides a brilliantly simple breakdown of how Corsi is calculated. Corsi and Fenwick percentages are almost exactly the same, except blocked shots are omitted when calculating Fenwick percentage.

YouTube player

Therapeutic Advice for Ducks Fans

Despite the fact that Perry isn’t scoring goals at the same pace he usually does, his game is exactly where it needs to be. In fact, numerical probability says he’s going to start scoring goals even more regularly than normal. He has a career shooting percentage of 13.3%, which means that he’s going to bury about 13 of every 100 shots on goal. He has scored only 8 goals on 121 shots this season, which is eight goals less than we’ve grown accustomed to him scoring over equivalent stretches of play.

In my opinion, that means now is the time to start feeding him the puck as much as possible. Why? His career numbers tell me he is going to score somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 goals over his next 121 shots on goal. After all, we are talking about a player who has finished as one of the league’s top 10 goal scorers in five of the last six seasons.

Perry is an amazingly consistent hockey player. He will do as he has always done, provided one takes a large enough sample of his body of work to analyze. There are 38 games left in the regular season, so just sit back and watch. He will continue to put somewhere in the neighborhood of three shots on goal per game, just as he has this season (2.75 shots/game) and over the course of his entire career (3.17 shots/game.) As long as he remains healthy, I’d be willing to bet he will be at or beyond the 30-goal mark by season’s end.

If not, perhaps he should bring back the antagonistic antics which earned him the “hated one” moniker. The only change I’ve seen is his much more gentlemanly on-ice behavior.